art highlights

Not just a fantasy: Hellen van Meene’s uncanny portraits

Dutch-born Hellen van Meene is best known for her portraits of young girls, which pulsate with psychological tension. These elegant images show girls in various stages of adolescence, though the realism in these photographs is threaded with a fantastical element.

The resulting uncanniness is redolent of fairy tales, but also of images from art history, recalling the works of artists like Vermeer, Velasquez and Millais. Characterized by their use of light and their exquisite elegance, they combine classical references with gothic horror, alluded to in these images of solitary, faceless, sometimes headless, girls.

The artist, who works from the outskirts of Amsterdam, is well versed in the traditions of classical painting. She was born in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, in 1972, and now lives and works in Heiloo, The Netherlands.

Untitled, Chromogenic print, 2015, 16 x 16 inches, edition of 10. © Hellen van Meene, Courtesy of the Artist, Yancey Richardson Gallery.

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